Whenever a snowflake leaves the sky, it turns and turns to say "Good-by."!
— Alexander Selkirk

Alexander Selkirk, also known as Alexander Selcraig, was a Scottish sailor who spent more than four years as a castaway after being marooned on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean, or South Sea. Selkirk was an unruly youth, and joined buccaneering expeditions to the South Sea during the War of the Spanish Succession. One such expedition was aboard Cinque Ports, commanded by William Dampier. Dampier was captain of St George, and Selkirk served on Cinque Ports, St George's companion ship, as sailing master under Captain Thomas Stradling. In February 1704, following a stormy passage around Cape Horn, the privateers fought a long battle with a well-armed French vessel, St Joseph, only to have it escape to warn its Spanish allies of the buccaneers' arrival in the Pacific. A raid failed on the Panamanian gold mining town of Santa María when their landing party was ambushed. The easy capture of Asunción, a heavily-laden merchantman, revived the men's hopes of plunder, and Selkirk was put in charge of the prize ship.

In September 1704, the ship called in for provisions at the Juan Fernández Islands off Chile, and Selkirk judged correctly that his craft was unseaworthy and asked to be left there. By the time he was rescued, Selkirk had become adept at hunting and making use of the resources that he found on the island. His story of survival was widely publicized when he returned home and became a probable source of inspiration for writer Daniel Defoe's fictional character Robinson Crusoe.

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